Open Space Strategy and Standards


What we mean by open space

Open space is:

Land that is regularly available for recreational or sporting use by the community. This includes beaches, woodland & wetlands, school playing fields, private sports clubs, allotments and graveyards, as well as parks & gardens and amenity land.

Open spaces are valued community assets. They help to improve public health, well-being and quality of life. They also bring regeneration benefits to an area. In 2012, Cornwall’s residents recorded that 95% rated having good quality open spaces as important or very important. (Cornwall Community Attitudes Survey).

Open Space Provision Standards

Open Space Provision Standards are necessary to inform local planning. Planning decisions should be informed by a robust and up to date local open space assessment in line with the National Planning Policy Framework 2021 (para.s 98/99)

Open Space Strategy for Larger Towns

In 2014, Cornwall Council adopted the Open Space Strategy for Larger Towns in Cornwall as interim planning guidance. The work has been refreshed following the adoption of the Cornwall Local Plan, for which it now forms an evidence base. The adopted strategy identifies open space local provision standards for the following urban settlements:

Assessments have been completed for a further 27 smaller settlements in consultation with local stakeholders. This information is available on request, but several have already been incorporated into Neighbourhood Development Plans.

Provision, housing targets and local consultation evaluations provide evidence for new quantity, accessibility and quality standards. These replace all those used before, including national guidance e.g., that of the Fields in Trust. In the case of quantity requirements (area in m2 per person or dwelling), these vary for each of the study areas. This is due to natural, cultural and historic differences. Taking into account local stakeholders feedback, it is important to distinguish the different types or categories of open space. To ensure the right balance in provision for the community as a whole, standards have been set for the following types:
  1. Parks and gardens; Amenity green space; Civic spaces
  2. Natural and semi-natural green spaces. Beaches, green corridors, accessible non-productive countryside in urban fringe areas
  3. Public access sports facilities (outdoor): available for community games
  4. Children’s play area – equipped
  5. Provision for teenagers– equipped facilities
  6. Allotments, community gardens, and city (urban) farms
  7. Cemeteries (Penzance and Falmouth/Penryn only)
Twelve key policies are set out that support the delivery of the provision standards:
  • Establishing principles for future residential development. As well as
  • informing developer contributions
  • neighbourhood planning
  • property decisions
  • grant funding and
  • the management of the council’s own environment assets.

The following guidance aides in the planning of residential development:
  • To approximate open space requirements through creation of on site new green infrastructure
  • or an off-site contribution (via Section 106 agreement).
Some smaller developments may be exempt, if located within acceptable range of some form of open space. For larger developments this will usually be a combination of on and off-site provision.

For further information please read our:

Where it is determined that on site open space is not appropriate. Or it is acceptable for there to be less open space on site than planning policies dictate. Developers can be asked for a financial contribution (a planning obligation) to meet needs outside of the development. These contributions can go towards the cost of purchasing or converting land. Improving existing facilities, meeting increased maintenance costs. As well as provision for amenity facilities, whether it be for open space or otherwise, in the site's vicinity.

The contributions are secured by a Section 106 agreement. The Council ensures it receives the contribution, and it is used appropriately. Ensuring the community benefits of Section 106 contributions for open space are maximised.

It is important that Applications be consulted on, developed and have the support of local interested parties.

A funding application can be submitted when Cornwall Council receives a section 106 contribution for an open space amenity.

Please read the supporting advice before completing an application:

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